Friday, November 23, 2012

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1)
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil's lair. She wasn't innocent now....

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages- not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers- beautiful, haunted Akiva- fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
Review by Nara

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. 
It did not end well.

...and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the sound of everyone who has read the blurb and above lines rushing to get a copy of this book. Seriously, with a premise as promising as the one Laini Taylor offers up, how could you possibly fail to be ensnared by the world of Karou and Akiva? Even with the two lines given above (which are the first lines of the book) we see the promise of tragedy. But this is young adult, you say. There's always a happy ending in young adult! And this is what keeps us hooked. Even through these hints of tragedy, we keep reading as we want to find the gold at the end of the rainbow: the happy ending.

I actually had a copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone lying around for some time before I decided to start reading it. And I don't know why I deliberated for so long because when I finally read it, I was well and truly enthralled by Taylor's writing. Her writing is absolutely stunning, and completely nails the golden rule of "show don't tell". She manages to build a beautiful setting in a world of angels and demons, of magic and hope. (I mean, really, who isn't captivated by the idea of a world that can be entered through a doorway in Prague?). And the characters. Amazing. While I was reading, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually liked the characters that I was meant to like. Too often, the protagonist is overly dramatic, or idiotically naive, or just plain annoying. This is definitely not the case with Karou, and I found that towards the end of the book, I was willing the book to magically become longer, just so I could continue reading. (Also, the love interest being an angel with eyes that burn like flames? *swoon*)

The ending, man, that was harsh: a complete and utter cliffhanger ending. Thank God Days of Blood and Starlight came out recently: it managed to satiate my appetite for Akiva and Karou. And a few more beautiful lines from Daughter of Smoke and Bone (may include very minor spoilers, but warning: may cause you to become temporarily insane until you obtain a copy of the book):

Click to read spoilers

Once upon a time, a little girl was raised by monsters. 
But angels burned the doorways to their world, and she was all alone.

Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes its own magic.

Oh, Hell. Must. Mate. Immediately. (bet you're interested in finding out the context of that one hehe)

Once upon a time, an angel lay dying in the mist. 
And a devil knelt over him and smiled.

"Love is a luxury."
"No. love is an element."
An element. Like air to breath, earth to stand on.

His eyes blazed like flames.
She whispered, "You."

And if the above hasn't convinced you yet, there is no annoying love triangle. Hooray! Bravo, Laini Taylor, bravo!

Similar Books:
1. Angelfall by Susan Ee
2. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
3. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Panacea Candidate

Overall: 10/10
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 3.5/5


  1. Didn't you just want to travel to Prague after this? For me, Taylor's strength is her worldbuilding. I could see everything, from Karou to Madrigal to Zuzana the marionette, in my mind like a vivid painting while I was reading DoS&B; it takes such talent to do that.

    I'm glad you loved this one, Nara! Did you ever read the sequel? :)

    1. Her writing is just so lyrical, it's really easy to visualise everything! The worldbuilding is definitely amazing.

      Yep I've read the sequel and it was just as good, if not better than DOSB. I loved Ziri, he was such a great character :D